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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

One Is The Loneliest Number

This year, I spent the middle part of February on a work trip in Las Vegas.  For the first part of the trip I was in a class and the second part was a conference.  I was there for seven nights, which included Valentine's Day weekend spent away from my husband.  I kept myself  busy studying for the certification exam that came at the end of the class and exploring the sites with my co-workers.  I spoke with my husband frequently, and tried not to be too unhappy about missing out on spending this holiday together.  I was counting down the nights until I would be home again.  

About four days in, I realized I was coming down with a little cold.  By morning six, I couldn't get out of bed.  If you have ever been away from your loved ones during a day of feverish, cough-yourself-into-a-migraine hell, you know just how lonely it is.  I couldn't pull myself together enough to take a shower or change out of my pjs.  I had to ask one of my sweet co-workers to bring me some meds from the general store in the hotel lobby.  Not exactly the way you want your co-workers to see you, but when you get just sick enough, you stop caring for a bit.

Somehow I was able to get it together enough the next day to take a shower and pack my belongings. I requested a late checkout, and then found a little nook that I could hide in until it was time to catch my airport shuttle.  The line to get through security was excruciating, and I was a little fearful that they might not let me on the plane.  I couldn't wait to get home to see my husband and dogs and have some homemade soup. I wanted to be sick in my own bed.  I wanted the comforts of my home.  I wanted this not to be a full flight.  It was.  I claimed a window seat, curled up into a little ball, and listened to my book.  Sometimes all you need is someone to help take care of you, and he was on his way to pick me up.

Before it all came crashing down, I did have a little bit of fun,.  Here are some of the highlights.  

Leaving San Francisco.  You can barely make out the Golden Gate Bridge and Golden Gate Park (the long rectangle).

The famous glass ceiling (Fiori di Como) in the Bellagio lobby.
Where was he going; wings in one hand, beer in the other?
View of the fountains and the strip from inside the hotel.
I admit, I had to look up how this trick is done on You Tube.
The chocolate fountain at Jean Phillipe Patisserie.  If only I could shrink myself and dive right in.
My hotel room with a view.
Through the crowd at Harrah's, I thought these two were real people.
Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds at the Bellagio.
I dragged some co-workers over to try Shake Shack at New York, New York Hotel.  All I can say is Boston Cream shake!
Celebrating the Chinese New Year.
I had some amazing days step-wise.
Larry King did the keynote speech, and he is one sharp and funny 81 year old.
The volcano at the Mirage is erupting.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Recent Reads

I have been doing quite a bit of reading lately, and before I forget everything about the books, I wanted to get a blog post up about them.  These are the books I read up through the end of 2014.  

The Husband's Secret:  This book was about three women and their families in Australia.  Their stories slowly intertwine and a long standing mystery is revealed.  Then there is the truth behind a secret (there is still a lot of book left when we find out just what it is).  This sets off all sorts of repercussions for the people involved.  I didn't really see the ending coming, and I like those kinds of surprises.  I hadn't ever read anything by Liane Moriarty before, and now I am adding all of her books to my "to read" list.  That was how much I enjoyed this story.  This book was five star worthy!

I Don't Know What You Know Me From: Confessions of a Co-Star:  I have been a longtime fan of Judy Greer's work.  I think the first movie I saw her in was Jawbreaker.  After that, she seemed to have a small part in everything.  So when I saw she had written a book, I was interested in learning more about her.  If you are a fan, this will not disappoint.  Her deadpan sense of humor shines through in her writing.  I felt like we could be friends.  Her stories were engaging, and I laughed a lot.  This book gets a strong 4 1/2 stars.

Not That Kind of Girl:  Let me start this off with my disclaimer:  I LOVE GIRLS (the tv show).  I think it is well-written and the characters are all a mix of quirky, a little neurotic, and likable.  For me, this did not translate into a book, and that was disappointing.  Lena Dunham writes really well.  I just found that the same personality that draws me into her show, repelled me from her as a person.

Don't get me wrong, her stories were interesting, and she even solved a life-long mystery about what tonsil stones were called (if you don't know what these are, please don't google them). She just comes off as a high-maintenance friend.  The one you always have to reassure. The one that can be a little demanding of your attention.  Sometimes you might not answer her calls because you need a little break from the drama.  

Overall, I would give this book three stars.  I still watch and look forward to Girls.  I appreciated the honesty with which she recalled anecdotes from her life.  I just felt a little drained after reading about all of them.  

Yes Please:  This was another book that wasn't quite what I thought it would be...funny.  In all fairness, it had its moments, but It was more of a series of essays about defining moments in Amy Poehler's life.  It was interesting, but I was expecting something in the spirit of Bossypants.  It was not. 

I would give it a solid three and a half stars, because after I realized it wasn't going to be a laugh a minute, I settled into her stories about how she became who she is today.  There were a few life lessons she shares along the way, which were not always easy for her to go through, but important to talk about so you can better understand just who Amy is.  If you are a lifelong fan of her work, you will want to pick this up.  

Summer In The City (The Carrie Diaries #2):  If you read and enjoyed The Carrie Diaries, you will devour this book.  It takes place immediately after the first book ends, where Carrie is living in New York City and attending a writers workshop for the summer.  She is introduced to the characters of Samantha and Miranda from the tv series that we all know and love.  For me, it was a solid three stars.  Easy to read, and a continuation of Carrie Bradshaw's teenage years. 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Super Bowl Ate My Birthday: Part 2 - Views From The Presidio and A Floating Restaurant

Did you know that the San Francisco Zoo was right across the street from the Pacific Ocean? Neither did I, but this was my view from the parking lot. Pretty spectacular.  I still can't believe how warm and clear it was.  

After we left the zoo, we headed north for a short drive to the Presidio, which is a large park and former military base.  There are many things to see inside of this park, but the views of the Golden Gate Bridge are what reeled me in.  

It was a beautiful day for sailing in the bay
The moon over Alcatraz
Sailboats all around Alcatraz
There is this restaurant that I had always been curious about called Forbes Island.  It is in the very touristy Pier 39 area, over by Fisherman's Wharf.  The only way to get there is by water taxi.

Our ride to the restaurant
The view on our ride over
The restaurant itself is a houseboat, and you eat under water.  There is also a spectacular lighthouse that you can climb to the top of. (Note:  If you get sea sick easily, you should pass on this experience).
On the other side of the boat, the famous Pier 39 sea lions.  
If you are interested in seeing this live, Pier 39 has a camera you can control, where the sea lions, Forbes Island, Alcatraz, and the Golden Gate Bridge can all be viewed.

A closer view of the sea lions on their barges.  
The restaurant is small and dimly lit inside.  I tried to take a few iPhone shots, but they didn't turn out very well.  I will share them anyway.

A birthday cocktail
This was their poke, and it was fabulous
Sole with lemon and capers, also very good.
The lady's room was also the master bedroom of the former houseboat and had been preserved. Quite the bachelor pad, eh?

The lighthouse
The next morning (Super Bowl Sunday) was my actual birthday.  My sweet husband kept up our tradition of making fresh squeezed blood orange mimosas.

Blood Oranges
He also took me out to have my favorite breakfast, the apple pancake from the Original Pancake House.  This was heaven!  I read somewhere that calories don't count on birthday weekend.

Apple Pancake
That wraps up my birthday.  I hope you enjoyed my little tour of San Francisco.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Super Bowl Ate My Birthday: Part 1 - Hanging Out At The Zoo

This year, my birthday fell on Super Bowl Sunday.  The years when this happens are never my favorite.  Don't get me wrong, I am a football fan (go Raiders), but I am also a fan of celebrating.  So when I saw this coming, I took swift action and planned fun for Saturday.  At the time I wasn't really sure what the "fun" was, just that we were going to have it.  It was also a compromise with my husband, so he could watch the game.  

It was my husband's idea to visit the San Francisco Zoo. I had never been there before, but it was always on my to-do-one-day list.  As you can see below, the weather was on our side.  The zoo is in the Lake Merced area of the city, which had the warmest temperatures of all.  Birthday weekend  win!

I have to say, this was really a great zoo.  There are many opportunities to get close to the animals and really observe them.  Here are some of my favorite pictures from our visit. 

Sleeping grizzlies.  They look so peaceful.

A submerged hippopotamus.  I stood there for a few minutes just watching, and he never came up for air.

The arborist at the zoo worked some kind of magic with the lighting.  

Chimps just seem so human-like.  They are fun to watch.

A wallaroo, hopping around.

This polar bear was just hanging out, eating some greens.

The bald eagle is so majestic.  I am always a little bit in awe when I see one.

There were many peacocks just roaming around freely on the zoo grounds.  I was hoping one would put on a display, but I never caught it.

There is something so wonderful about the ridiculousness of the anteater's appearance.  

Sunbathing tiger

Zoo Fact: Did you know that most species of penguins do not live in freezing climates?

My heart went out to the poor rhino, who had his horn taken from him.  I looked for a story about his life previous to the zoo,  but was unable to find anything.  

Monkeys on watch.

We caught this guy at just the right time.  Take a look at those teeth!

One of my best friends loves flamingos, so I always spend little extra time taking their  pictures

What?  Are you talkin' to me?


Pensive gorilla.

I loved how the graceful arch of the giraffe's neck looked against the curve of the branch.
Stay tuned for the second half of my tour around the city.

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